Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Post Mortem

The minitrial is over.

The state's case was that the defendant entered a U-Totem, robbed the store, took the clerk's watch, hit him in the head, and shut him in the cooler, with a second witness who came in after.

The defense's case was that the defendant was at a bar a mile and change away from the store, playing a shuffleboard tournament at the time of the robbery.

After all was said and done, the verdict was returned as a hung jury.

I thought we had a pretty good case, but we had worthy opponents who know how to dig and cross and examine. In the end, I'm happy with a hung jury, because that means we convinced at least some members of the jury of guilt (actually, of the 8 jurymembers, 4 wanted to convict and one was on the fence, so it was essentially 4.5 - 3.5).

It was tough. There are so many things to consider when it comes to arguing a case, rules of evidence, rules of procedure, hearsay rules. Then there are witness problems - some witnesses are helpful, some are not so helpful, some who should be good witnesses turn out to be harmful witnesses - for example, it got to a point with one of my witnesses on redirect where I had to flat out tell him the facts, which I normally would not have gotten away with. Then you have the testimony you are unsure about - the stuff from the defense. We did not get to hear from the defense, no theory as to their case, no exculpatory evidence, heck, we didn't even see the defendant until the trial. We had to anticipate not just what the defense's story was but what their witnesses were going to say and then adjust to what they really said on the fly. Trial lawyers need a quick mind and the ability to focus on several things at once. This is multitasking for people's freedom, sometimes lives. It's fun, but I think it was fun for me more because it was a rare occurrance.

I have plenty of room to improve. I need to do a better job understanding the rules of evidence, understanding the rules of procedure, and especially not leading the witnesses, but the important thing for me is the knowledge that if I have to make a living, I could be a criminal trial lawyer.


red.hot.mamma! said...

You kicked butt today. I'm proud of you, partner. Sorry if I got a little snippy - I was stressed and sleep deprived and MISERABLE for those 4 hours. At one point I just wanted it to be over so bad, that I stopped caring about how it turned out. I actually thought, "Okay, fine, they can just win. I DON'T CARE." I am sooooooo not a litigator!

But the most important thing - IT'S OVAH!!

Steve said...

I'm so mad at myself for tipping my hand with their alibi witness. I should have ripped her apart and not said anything to the other side beforehand.

I really saved their case.

Just Wondering said...

All in all, it sounds like a success to me. Congratulations to you both.